I loved video games as a kid. I raced and fought and adventured with my friends (and alone) for hours on end. When I was 14 I stayed up for two days straight playing Final Fantasy III (née VI), which is probably one of the best games ever made. It was great.
This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.
Of course, growing up and having a family changes your priorities, but I’ve never lost my appetite for games. I just have less time to play them now, so I have to be more discriminating with my choices. This year I set a goal to play through an entire game, start to finish, which is something I’ve had a hard time with lately. Starting things is easy; it’s the finishing that’s hard.
I also wanted to actually accomplish something. I’ve been twiddling with little things now and then (replaying Portal and Braid, for example), but those shouldn’t count. A Hundred Thing should be bigger than that. So I went looking for something substantial.
And it landed in my lap, courtesy of the Humble Bundle. The game is called Pier Solar, and it was intended to be the ultimate evolution of the kind of game I loved as a kid. The team originally wrote and released it as a Sega Genesis cartridge in 2010(!), but since then it’s been given a graphical overhaul, and released on more modern systems as well.
I found out as I worked my way through it that this just isn’t the kind of experience I want any more. When I was younger, I had infinite patience for walking around, fighting monsters, and leveling up my characters (this has since been dubbed grinding). It felt good, there was an almost visceral connection with what the characters were doing on screen. But my tastes have changed. I want the joy of victory, of solving the puzzle, and a great story.
Turns out that my dissatisfaction isn’t just because I’m old, though. Others have also said that this game isn’t as great as it thinks it is. The writing isn’t the greatest, the combat could be much more satisfying, and the only reason I didn’t get tired of the grinding is the setting to turn down the encounter rate, which means the game isn’t that hard to begin with.
So I did it. I completed my goal. But I’m not super thrilled about it. I’m hoping to make time for more of this, it’s a recreation that I heartily enjoy. But I won’t be counting on nostalgia to make it fun anymore.